The winter months are traditionally seen as a quieter period for light aircraft pilots as the weather is generally worse and the light disappears much earlier in the day. It’s not so much of an issue if you have an instrument or night rating, but can still be a little restrictive.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to fly more in the winter months.
Pick Destinations That Aren’t So Weather Dependent
If you fly more often from grass and unlicensed airfields if can be restrictive when runways are wet and muddy, or when light is an issue. So with this in mind, grab your favourite airfield reference book and plan to fly to larger airports that have good runways and all the facilities that you need. There are plenty which are welcoming to GA and not too expensive to fly to, such as Carlisle, Dundee, Durham Tees Valley, Gloucester, Blackpool and Kemble Cotswold.
Plan Well Ahead
Use accurate weather forecasts a few days ahead to plan which day will be best for flying and make a plan to use the chosen day wisely. If you know in advance that high pressure and clear skies are going to be with you, you know that VFR flying will be good and you can make the most of the day. Which leads to…
Plan to Fly Early
Make the most of any good weather spells and flying weather by planning to start early in the day. That way you can get in trips to other airfields or longer periods in the air before the sun starts setting again in the late afternoon.
Do Some Training
The quieter, darker winter period is a good time to get some extra training with an instructor. The extra darkness is a good opportunity to gain a night rating, which can subsequently be used to extend your winter flying hours. Additionally you could do your instrument training, or get a Flight Instructor qualification.
Fly in Sunnier Places
If you just can’t stomach the bad weather and limitations on your flying, you could always head abroad to a place where the sun is still shining and the hours or darkness aren’t as much of a problem. Southern Europe, Florida and places in the Southern Hemisphere like Australia and New Zealand are great places to fly, and often cheaper than in the UK.